A Story of Sir Alastair, Keaton and Rory

If England win this summer’s Ashes or/and World Cup, then we could have a host of new MBEs!

The chances of Keaton Jennings playing in the World Cup are slim. The chances of Rory Burns doing so are… even slimmer!

The likelihood of the pair playing in the Ashes and possibly earning knighthoods will be defined on the Test tour of West Indies. No disrespect to the current Caribbean collective but if you offered an opening batsman an away destination to cement their place in their own team then West Indies would currently be high on most player’s list.

Jennings was previously dropped on the eve of a home series against West Indies. He’ll hope not to be dropped post a Caribbean encounter this time. He played spin well in Sri Lanka and was razor sharp in the field but questions of his ability against pace linger. Based on the evidence and scars inflicted by South Africa, answering those questions against Australia won’t be easy!

Burns performed well in the second Test in Sri Lanka after a disappointing debut. He failed in the final Test however and his aesthetics aren’t to everybody’s pleasure. If he leaves the door even slightly ajar and some young gun plunders runs on the county scene or even Surrey teammate Jason Roy produces a run gluttonous World Cup then Burns will follow another Surrey man, his opening partner Mark Stoneman, back to the county game and with little chance of a Jennings style recall.

Should KJ and RB perform well in West Indies, help England regain the Ashes, go on to score a few thousand Test runs and even captain England (They’ve got experience) then maybe they could yet join Alastair Cook by having a new prefix!

Something in the Genes!

They’re not bad these Curran brothers are they?

I don’t actually think that most diehard cricket fans were surprised at how Surrey’s Sam Curran has taken to Test cricket. He’s an absolute star, capable of batting at six (Maybe higher) and opening the bowling for his country. His left-arm variety will be essential to England’s attack and compensates for any perceived lack of pace. I previously said that he is the axis around which England should build their team but given England’s abundance of all-round talent, just to be a cog will suffice. He’s already made his buck courtesy of the IPL (He’s been snapped up by Kings XI Punjab) but hopefully he’ll keep his feet on the ground and stay engaged with the longest form of the game as well as the pyjama affairs.

Brother Tom struggled for wickets in the 2017-18 Ashes series in Australia but displayed chutzpah with both bat and ball. He performed well in white-ball (ODI/T20I) cricket and it’s a shame that injuries limited his England outings in 2018. He’s been on absolute fire for Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash this winter, already claiming a hat-trick of three-wicket hauls and scoring a swashbuckling half-century. I still think he’s capable of being a viable Test option for England at least in home conditions. He and Sam clearly have attitude which I like. It’s not ugly but there’s a little bit of ‘In your face!’ and that’s healthy against some competitors.

Then there’s brother Ben. It would be easy to get discouraged by being a little behind his brothers or for him to be the butt of jokes but BC has won a contract with Northamptonshire on the back of an encouraging showing late last season. That included signing off with a match-winning 83 not out against Sussex in the County Championship and he’ll be keen to kick on this term for a side that have lost Ben Duckett to Nottinghamshire. How far BC can go remains to be seen. There’s no disgrace in having a solid county career without international recognition but whilst Sam and Tom might look destined for greatness, remember how compatriot Steven Finn as well as India’s Irfan Pathan sadly fell away. In the case of Ben, we might yet see a Mike Hussey style post thirty Test debut followed by thousands of runs!

It’s Back to the Cricket…

Face it folks, Christmas is over… so it’s back to the cricket and there are Test matches galore all over the globe this Boxing Day…

Australia are hosting India where Mayank Agarwal has registered an encouraging 76 on debut for the touring side:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/18693/scorecard/1144995/australia-vs-india-3rd-test-india-in-aus-2018-19

Sri Lanka take on New Zealand for whom Tim Southee struck a typically Tim Southee-like 68 to rescue his side from the depths of 64-6 to what will be a competitive 178. He then went onto claim three wickets before Sri Lanka planted the seeds of recovery:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/18812/scorecard/1153839/new-zealand-vs-sri-lanka-2nd-test-sri-lanka-in-nz-2018-19

Meanwhile in South Africa, Imam-ul-Haq is already back in the hutch having dined on duck not turkey for visitors Pakistan:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/18649/scorecard/1144153/south-africa-vs-pakistan-1st-test-pak-in-sa-2018-19

Will Marsh Come in Handy?

If, as predicted, batsman Peter Handscomb is dropped from Australia’s Test side once again, then it’s hard to see much of an international future for the twenty-seven-year-old. That said, teammate Shaun Marsh has had more lives than a suicidal cat, so maybe PH will be back again in time to be dropped again this time next year!

India have kept ‘Pistol Pete’ down just as England have before them. At 27, Handscomb is no pup. He’s acquired plenty of experience playing in both his homeland (Australia) and his motherland (England). In truth, it would seem a sensible move for elitely honest Australia to bring in Mitchell Marsh. MM’s contribution could help alleviate some of the strain on the hosts’ pace bowling attack. As for his potential output with the willow, despite an inauspicious start, Marsh has previously stepped up at crucial times but Australia desperately need an entire batting order that can contribute as is the case with the England side. India, whilst having non-existent openers but a respectable lower order have, most crucially, a number of middle order batsman for whom scoring a century is not as rare as a lunar eclipse! What Peter Handscomb would give to score a ton… or even another chance!

Disclaimer: You Watch, he’ll play and score a hundred!

Heat’s Harris Graces Big Occasion!

Brisbane Heat opener Grace Harris required only 42 deliveries to reach a scintillating century against Melbourne Stars in WBBL 2018-19.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=r-llQ6ixZcg

Harris has history at this level but appears to have been employed primarily as a bowler when donning Australian colours. She’ll be hoping that her exploits with the willow can earn her a recall to the national side then both Australia’s men’s (Marcus) and women’s teams could have Harris at the top of the order.

Flippin’ ‘eck!

Firstly, please let me be clear. I don’t mind change. I’m grateful for change in the past and there are changes that I’d welcome in the future… but this is embarrassing!

The Big Bash is set to replace the coin toss with the Australian backyard tradition of flipping a bat. This is professional sport right?

I’m all for trying something different in cricket, as has been done in the English County Championship. Alternative methods could be that the away team, the team highest in the league or the higher run scorers in a tournament get to choose whether to bat or bowl first but a bat flip, seriously!

We’ve got The Hundred coming to English cricket and the bat flip to the Australian game. What next? A Kabaddi fight between the captains before an IPL match?